Online Classes to Take If You Want to Make It in the Movie Business

Spike Lee, Aaron Sorkin, Martin Scorsese, and Judd Apatow are among the industry vets who have signed on to teach writing, acting, and filmmaking courses through MasterClass, an emerging online learning platform that’s making it easy for aspiring actors and directors to perfect their craft.

Lee and Apatow are the latest instructors to join MasterClass this year, along with filmmaker and producer Ken Burns and “The Handmaid’s Tale” author Margaret Atwood. Lee, whose “BlacKkKlansman” was released to rave reviews this summer, teaches a class on filmmaking, diving into the process of writing stories, developing camera angles, and even how to finance a film. Apatow, meantime, leads a comedy class, sharing tips for writing a great stand-up routine, and how to create storylines for comedic television and film productions.

MasterClass joins a number of other sites out there that offer online courses for a nominal fee. LinkedIn recently unveiled their “LinkedIn Learning” platform, which focuses on courses for career advancement, while Udemy has been in the marketplace since 2010, and now offers more than 80,000 course options, ranging from upgrading your technical skills, to courses on personal growth and development. All of the sites allow students to stream video tutorials, download course materials, and take part in interactive exercises, with many also offering the ability to connect with peers and instructors. The hook: an ability for students to learn at their own pace, and on their own time, from the convenience of home.

Unlike traditional continuing education classes, which require in-person attendance and tuition fees, MasterClass courses are available as part of an annual subscription for $180 (for access to all the classes on the site), or for individual purchase at $90 per class. The fee gets you lifetime access to the course videos and materials, so you can reference the lesson plans and tips at any time.

MasterClass courses focus on film and television, cooking, photography, sports, writing, and science. “Scandal” showrunner Shonda Rhimes teaches a course on writing for television, while students can also sign up for a Scorsese-led course on movie-making, which includes 30 video lessons and “office hours,” where the legendary director will respond to select student questions. The site has also added classes more recently from Chris Hadfield (space exploration), and Daniel Negreanu, whose poker class officially launched last month.

MasterClass says it has a “robust pipeline” of new courses and categories set to launch in the next few months, which will bring its catalog to more than 50 classes, and more than a thousand lessons. It’s been a year of tremendous growth on the financial front as well. MasterClass announced last month that it had raised $80 million in Series D funding, led by current investor IVP, with participation from NEA Ventures, Javelin Ventures, and Shari Redstone’s Advancit Capital, as well as new investors Atomico and Evolution Media (a joint fund from CAA and TPG).

To see the full course offerings and celebrity instructors on MasterClass, visit their site at www.masterclass.com.

VarietySPY editorial products are independently selected. If you buy something through our links, PMC may earn an affiliate commission.

More Biz

  • MAGA Teens Taunting Native American Elder

    MAGA Hat-Wearing Teens Harassing Native American Elder Spark Condemnation From Hollywood

    The Internet erupted in outrage Saturday after a video of young men wearing MAGA hats and attempting to intimidate a Native American man at the Indigenous Peoples March in Washington D.C. went viral. The march is taking place amid the government shutdown, which is nearing the one-month mark and has interfered with many Native Americans’ [...]

  • Leonard Klady Dead: Film Journalist Was

    Leonard Klady, Veteran Film Journalist, Dies at 67

    Leonard “Len” Klady, a former Variety reporter and critic who most recently worked for Movie City News and Screen International, has died. His wife, Beverly Walker, said he had been diagnosed with cancer in November.  Klady was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba and graduated from the University of Manitoba. He was a founding member of the [...]

  • Jordan Feldstein

    Roc Nation Seeks $11 Million From Insurer in Jordan Feldstein's Death

    Roc Nation filed a federal lawsuit Friday seeking $11 million from its insurance carrier following the death of Maroon 5 manager Jordan Feldstein. Roc Nation, a joint venture of Jay-Z and Live Nation Entertainment, partnered with Feldstein’s Career Artist Management in 2016. At the time, Roc Nation says it took out a “key man” life [...]

  • Walt Disney HQ LA

    Disney Unveils Financial Data for DTC Unit, Sets April 11 for Investor Presentation

    Disney has rejiggered its business segments for earnings reporting to make room for the new unit housing its global streaming operations. Disney on Friday released restated earnings for fiscal 2018, 2017 and 2016 to give investors and financial analysts better visibility into its spending on the launch of the Disney Plus, ESPN Plus and other [...]

  • R. Kelly

    R. Kelly Dropped by Sony Music

    Sony Music has decided to dissolve its working relationship with R. Kelly, Variety has learned. No external announcement of the move is planned in the immediate future, says a source, who added that the company took its time to wade through the issues “responsibly” and avoid legal ramifications. R. Kelly was removed from the RCA [...]


    Ex-Agent Stuart Manashil Ordered to Repay CAA in Fraud Case

    Former literary agent Stuart Manashil was ordered on Thursday to repay a $23,975 commission to CAA, which he admitted he had illegally diverted to a friend. Manashil, who now runs his own management company, pleaded guilty in March 2018 to a federal wire fraud charge. In a letter to U.S. District Judge Kimba Wood, Manashil [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content